Author Archives: From Poverty to Power

How introducing electronic votes in Brazil saved lives and increased health spending by a third

Just came across a paper which overcame even my scepticism about what often seems excessive hype around technology’s impact on poverty and human rights. Check out ‘Voting Technology, Political Responsiveness and Infant Health: Evidence from Brazil’ by Princeton’s Thomas Fujiwara. He has stumbled across one of those wonderful natural experiments that allow you to try and pin down the causal impact of a particular change. …

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Being bold: what Oxfam’s campaign on Yemen can teach us all about change

In recent years, one of the things that has made me really proud to work for Oxfam has been its stand on Yemen. Here, Maya Mailer (@mayamailer) distils the lessons from our campaign. How do you convince people to care about a place no one has heard of? When we first started our campaign on Yemen almost two years ago, it wasn’t simply a ‘forgotten …

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How do we encourage innovation in markets? What can systems thinking add?

Earlier this month I spent a fun 3 days at a seminar discussing Market Systems Innovation. No really. I discovered a community of very smart people working on markets, who seem to be on a similar journey to the people working on governance and institutions, who I have spent most of my time with in recent years. Chatham House Rule, so the speakers must remain …

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How are different governments performing as global citizens? Time for a new index!

Apologies. I get given stuff at meetings, it goes into the reading pile, and often takes months to resurface. So I have just read (and liked) a Country Global Citizenship Report Card handed to me in New York in December. It’s put together by the Global Citizens Initiative, run by Ron Israel. Time to assuage my guilt

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Shaping the future of work in a digital world – why should development organisations care?

On 13th March, IDS together with the Web Foundation and Nesta, are hosting the inaugural Digital Development Summit, with the support of DFID and the DFID-ESRC Impact Initiative (FYI: I will be one of the final panel speakers). This blog post is the first in a series that will be published by organisers and participants over the coming weeks. Here IDS’s Becky Faith and Ben …

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The global state of child marriage #GirlsNotBrides

OK, it’s finally happened, I’ve woken up with nothing to post – I’ve been on the road for the last two weeks, and it’s hard to keep feeding the blog between events, travel etc. So I thought I’d just repost the most powerful item from the 60 or so articles in my RSS feed today. Shanta Devarajan setting out the case for a Universal Basic Income …

Posted in Aid & Development, Gender, Infant & Child Health, Social, Women & Children | Tagged , , , , | Comments closed

How Change Happens (or doesn’t) in the Humanitarian System

I’ve been in Stockholm this week at the invitation of ALNAP, the Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action, which has been holding its annual meeting on the banks of a frozen Swedish river. I was asked to comment on the background paper for the meeting, Changing Humanitarian Action?, by ALNAP’s Paul Knox-Clarke.  I read the paper on the flight over (great …

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What does ‘Security’ mean? Great (and well-written) paper from IDS

I have been known in the past to be a little snippy about the writing style of esteemed colleagues from the Institute of Development Studies. So in the interests of balance, I want to celebrate a beautifully written, lyrical paper by IDS’ Robin Luckham. Whose Security? Building Inclusive and Secure Societies in an Unequal and Insecure World (OK, they could have worked on the title) …

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A philanthropist using systems thinking to build peace

Steve Killelea is an intriguing man, an Aussie software millionaire who, in the words of his bio ‘decided to dedicate most of his time and fortune to sustainable development and peace’.  Think a more weather-beaten Bill Gates. He also (full disclosure) bought me a very nice lunch last week. In pursuit of this aim he set up the Institute for Economics and Peace in 2007.

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How Change Happens + 3 months: how’s it going?

It’s now 3 months since How Change Happens came out (did I mention I’d published a new book?) so I dropped in at the publishers, OUP, last week to take stock. OUP took some risks with this book, notably agreeing to go Open Access from day one. That is a huge leap from the traditional publishing model of publishing only the hardback for a year, then deciding …

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What determines whether/how an organization can learn? Interesting discussion at DFID.

I was invited along to DFID last week for a discussion on how organizations learn. There was an impressive turnout of senior civil serpents – the issue has clearly got their attention. Which is great because I came away with the impression that they (and Oxfam for that matter) have a long way to go to really become a ‘learning organization’. So please make allowances …

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Want to put together a team to research inequality? LSE may be able to fund you

A 20 year project to build an international network of scholars and activists working on inequality is just kicking off. Interested? Read on. The Project is the Atlantic Fellows programme (AFP), run by the LSE’s new-ish International Inequalities Institute and funded by Atlantic Philanthropies, a US foundation (only foundations seem to be able to think on this longer time scale – it’s a really important …

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Of Jousting Knights and Jewelled Swords: a feminist reflection on Davos

Nancy Folbre is a feminist economist and professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst  What kind of an economic system delivers as much wealth to 8 men at the top as to the bottom half of the global population? It’s easier to describe shocking levels inequality than to explain them. Activist challenges to the power of the top 1%–along with demands for the …

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Multinational Companies in retreat? Fascinating Economist briefing

Now we’re all looking for ways to break out of filter bubble, I guess I can feel less guilty about loving The Economist. Beautifully written, it covers places and issues other papers ignore, and every so often has a big standback piece that makes you rethink. This week’s cover story, ‘the retreat of the global company’, is a fine example. Excerpts from the 4 page …

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